January 17, 2021   10:25am

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See what you’re made of — literally!

If you’re interested in finding out about your own personal genome and some of its implications, you should visit 23andMe.com. (Get it? 23 chromosomes.)  It’s not scary.  It’s actually fun and intriguing.  Here’s more about it …



You can find out
Where exactly did you and your ancestors come from?  What are your odds of getting a myriad of diseases – from sickle cell anemia to lung cancer to a heart attack … or, for example, how “addictive” might you be … or, which sibling are you most similar to … some 85 topics are discussed … You can also have genetic questions answered by experts, and ( if all parties choose to) compare your DNA with others and meet others who share your ancestry in the 23andMe community.

For example, a fellow who shares my haplogroup K1a1b1a (who knew?) actually started a Facebook group for our fellow ancestors.  By the way, if I were single, I’d join just to see if other members who shared my lineage lived close by.  The aforementioned “very distant cousin” is enormously intelligent and attractive — great genes — but alas, too late (and too young) for married ‘ol me.

Why care?
I’m one of those people who wanted to know the sex of my baby the second I got pregnant, so it’s not surprising that I’d be curious about something as intimate as my own family DNA. However, there are lots of practical reasons that relate to the health of those you love. For example, if you find that you’re odds are higher than normal for a particular disease — just the odds, not the inevitability — you may want to be a little more precautionary and take steps you might have neglected otherwise.  The knowledge is not scary; in some ways it’s reassuring and — given that there’s still so more research going on in this area to be discovered — it’s not definitive. But, it’s always interesting.

How it works
For $399.00 a 23andMe kit comes to you in the mail with instructions.  This amounts to your spitting some saliva in a tube and sending it off in the package provided. After your saliva is analyzed, you’re notified by email, go to the website (user protected and secure, of course) and log in at your convenience.  Then, start exploring your own genome.

You may also want to read the story about 23andMe on the front page “Sunday Styles” section of The New York Times entitled “When in Doubt, Spit It Out” by Allen Salkin. which focuses on the celebrity-aspect of who’s signing on and some of the investors behind the service.

By the way, if this sounds like a promotion, I assure you I’m not getting anything in return — I’m hyping it because I believe in it. (Full disclosure: While I get no recompense and am not an investor, I do know one of the co-founders which is how I got to know about 23andMe while it was still in its infancy and when it came online became an “early adopter”.)

Check out  23andMe for yourself …

Snoety symbol
Ellen Bollinger says: September 15th, 2008 at 3:22 pm

This is a boon to Baby Boomers who are determined to stay vital as long as feasible. We can prepare for genetic time bombs! The only down side is if the insurance companies get a hold of the information and start charging higher premiums for those who may require more clinical help.

Duke Sherman says: September 15th, 2008 at 3:24 pm

I have been watching this closely and am delighted to see that it is becoming more affordable. Fantastic, I am preparing my vial as we speak!

Ginger Puglia says: September 15th, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Please tell me I’m on of the first five!
I think this would make a perfect gift as well to my friends like Ivy Ross!

Ingenious idea–as usual Harriet!

Karin Hibma Cronan says: September 20th, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Hi Harriett, have been watching this with great interest, thank you for giving us a personal angle. Would love to see our DNA code put to work like “recaptchas”, tapping the joint power of people, networks, and computers to solve health and wellness issues.
(http://www.technologyreview.com/TR35/Profile.aspx?Cand=T&TRID=631) Maybe you can connect the dots! Love your blog, Karin

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